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Vande Bharat: India’s biggest-ever evacuation operation but not the first!

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Over a week which began on May 7, the two airlines Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express have embarked on this mission, while the Navy has also deployed two of its ships. The operation “Vande Bharat” is being carried out amid growing appeals from workers, students to be brought home amid restrictions imposed across the world. Although the passengers would have to bear the travel cost, their return poses a fresh challenge to the South Asian giant as it grapples with a surge in Coronavirus cases, which has so far infected about 70 K people already.

Therefore, once in India, the people will be tested medically and will be quarantined for 14 days in state-run facilities on payment basis. Not just that, travelers would also have to register for “AarogyaSetu” to curb the spread of the virus in India.

This is not the first time that India has embarked on a major evacuation exercise as in the past, our country has helped evacuate many citizens and other foreign nationals during wars and natural disasters. This goes on to show how positively India reacts to a humanitarian crisis, says Sanjay Dalmia, a renowned Indian nationalist.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest rescue and evacuation operations that India has conducted:

1. COVID-19 medical evacuation from Wuhan: It was Air India’s first medical evacuation, in over 70 years of existence, and it came at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak i.e. Wuhan, China. On January 31, 637 Indians and 7 Maldivians were brought back.

2. Airlift from Kuwait: About 1,70,000 Indians were caught in the war which left millions homeless and many more dead. Air India operated around 500 flights over two months – considered as the world’s largest evacuation exercise of civilians by air.

3. Operation Raahat: It is said “cometh the hour, cometh the man”. If this stands true for one establishment in India then it is the Defence Forces. On April 1, 2015, their valor transcended boundaries, when they evacuated 4,640 Indian citizens and 960 foreign nationals of 41 countries from Yemen during the 2015 Yemeni crisis.

4. Operation Safe Homecoming: The air-sea operation was conducted by the Indian Navy and Air India on February 26, 2011 to evacuate its citizens, fleeing from the Libyan Civil War. After the evacuation of more than 15,000 Indian nationals, the operation ended on March 11.

Operation Maitri, Operation Sukoon, Evacuation from Brussels – India has a long history of evacuations during wars and natural disasters. It is this swift, prompt measures and affection towards its citizens that make India one of the greatest nations in the world.

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